Is typhoid vaccination essential?

Your child’s health is your highest priority. If your child misses just a single meal, you lose your appetite. Imagine, if he or she gets a serious disease where she constantly complains of stomach ache and doesn’t feel like eating anything.  He/ she may lose weight and be restless. Typhoid fever is one such infection. It is caused by a germ (a bacteria) called as Salmonella typhi. This germ is similar to the germ that causes food poisoning.  It can make the child very sick for a few days and can lead to many complications or even death if not treated.

Typhoid is common in India because of our poor sanitation and waste disposal facilities. Sometimes, during the rains, sewage water trickles into our drinking water sources leading to contamination with faeces. If this contaminated water is used for drinking and cooking, a typhoid outbreak may occur.

Typhoid can also spread through close contact with a typhoid carrier. The contamination of food by food handlers who are carriers, forms the second commonest route of infection. 1Some carriers continue to harbour the germs even after their symptoms disappear. This means that some germs continue to live inside their bodies and they continue to excrete them. If hand hygiene is not adhered to properly, then the germs can be passed to others who may then get typhoid fever. For e.g. if your child is fed by a maid or a care-taker who is a typhoid carrier; there is a risk that your child will get typhoid too.

Typhoid can make your active youngster dull and listless and drain away energy levels. It can keep them away from school and play for a long time too. There can be serious complications like liver problems.3 Typhoid fever is treated with antibiotics. But nowadays, antibiotics are losing their effectivity due to the emergence of resistance. This can culminate in deadly danger. 4

Why take all this risk, when typhoid can be easily prevented with the help of a vaccination.  There are two types of vaccine: the injectable and the oral typhoid vaccine

The IAP guidelines recommend children should receive the injectable typhoid vaccine at age 9-12 months followed by a booster dose at 2 years of age.5

The oral vaccine on the other hand is given in the form of capsules in four doses every alternate day for a week (1st, 3rd, 5th and 7th day). This is usually given if you are planning to travel to a place where typhoid is rampant.

References:

  1. Malays J Med Sci. 2000 Jul; 7(2): 3–8.
  2. Indian J Med Res. 2012 Feb; 135(2): 161–169.
  3. J Trop Pediatr. 2002 Apr;48(2):102-8.
  4. Malays J Med Sci. 2013 Jul; 20(4): 71–75.
  5. http://www.iapindia.org/page.php?id=129
  6. J Clin Diagn Res. 2015 May; 9(5): SC01–SC03

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